by MICAELA BURROW at dailycaller.com
Officers and even Army officials expressed disappointment in the service’s official suicide prevention regulation, quietly released earlier in August, according to Military.com.
The policy goes into effect Sept. 8, nearly three years after the Army initially promised to rewrite suicide prevention doctrine to provide clear guidance to commanders on how respond to subordinates displaying a risk of suicide, according to Military.com. Behind the scenes, soldiers and Army officials acknowledged the policy falls short of expectations and could leave leaders uncertain when and how to intervene in the cases of at-risk soldiers, suicide attempts and deaths as the Army continues to struggle.
“This isn’t a serious answer to what I’m seeing,” one command sergeant major told Military.com on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation.
“What are those immediate steps a junior leader takes when their soldier is in trouble? We’re getting a bit lost in the sauce,” he said.
Forty-nine soldiers died by suicide in the first three months of 2023, according to the Department of Defense’s latest report. At least 255 soldiers took their own lives in 2022.
The Army has released dozens of pamphlets, PowerPoints and other resources to inform suicide prevention across the force, but the new guidance is the first effort to consolidate the materials into a comprehensive plan, according to Military.com. Individual units and installations have implemented their own guidance, sometimes leaving company-level commanders without formal training to make decisions about mental health assessments, leave or to simply check up on their soldiers.
The new doctrine outlines risk factors and warning signs, as well as steps to mitigate them. Intervention focuses on “preventing a life crisis or stressor … from leading to suicidal behavior” and reducing barriers to seeking help, according to the document.
“It’s about the layers that are influencing the individual,” one Army official with firsthand knowledge of the process leading to the policy told Military.com on condition of anonymity. “We’re identifying those risk factors. … This is the first time in a suicide reg [regulation] we’re talking a bit broader.”read more